Monday, November 22, 2010

Super heroes and America

Here's an interview with Alan Moore, from a while ago. He's always got something interesting to say, but what's relevant here is this thought:

I'm interested in the superhero in real life, but not the comic book version. I've had some distancing thoughts about them recently. I've come to the conclusion that what superheroes might be--in their current incarnation, at least--is a symbol of American reluctance to involve themselves in any kind of conflict without massive tactical superiority. I think this is the same whether you have the advantage of carpet bombing from altitude or if you come from the planet Krypton as a baby and have increased powers from earth's lower gravity. That's not what superheroes meant to me as a kid. To me, they represented the wellspring of imagination. Superman had a dog in a cape! He had a city in a bottle! That's wonderful stuff for a seven-year-old boy to think about. But I suspect that a lot of superheroes now are basically about the unfair fight. You know: people wouldn't bully me if I could turn into the Hulk.

It's not Moore at his most articulate, since he's really contradicting himself at the end there. And he's falling victim to the same affliction that plagues many a person when looking at the popular culture of their youth: "These kids today don't have any taste, with their long hair and powerful superheroes." And he's confusing the individual with the collective, and wish-fulfillment with apprehension.

Not that Superman's for kids anymore.

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